The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub has identified seven of the most promising inventors based in UK universities and is supporting them to turn their research into spin-out companies.
The technologies include a wireless device that uses detailed 3D movements in your fingertips to interact with a computer, and ‘smart’ glasses to help the blind and partially sighted. Pioneering smart materials based on ‘photocatalysts’, including antibacterial plastic films, water purifying bags and sun-burn warning indicators, are also being supported through the scheme.
Dr Angus Webb – Using big data to reduce commercial fuel consumption
Dynamon | Spinning out of the University of Southampton
An average heavy goods vehicle consumes £42,000 of fuel annually in the UK, and haulage companies operate on extremely tight margins, usually between 1-3%. This means fuel savings can have a huge effect on their profitability.
There are a number of products already on the market to improve the efficiency of haulage vehicles, however a lack of evidence of the fuel savings has limited their uptake. Angus’ start-up, Dynamon, combines big data from vehicles with dynamic modeling and statistics to provide hauliers with tailored recommendations on the products that will help them make the greatest savings.
Dynamon has three products: Advanced Telematics, the Fuel Saving Platform, and the Fuel Saving Calculator. Advanced Telematics utilises in-vehicle electronics, mathematical modelling and big data statistical methods to provide a detailed breakdown of fuel consumption in relation to a range of critical factors. It then identifies where the greatest efficiency improvements can be made.
The Fuel Saving Platform is an extension to Advanced Telematics, which recommends fuel saving products based on how a vehicle is consuming fuel and the likely return on investment for the haulier. The Fuel Saving Calculator is a web application for fuel saving product manufacturers to more accurately communicate potential fuel savings to customers.
Ahead of the commercial launch of its products, Dynamon is already working with Southampton City Council, First Group and Go South Coast to quantify the impact of fuel saving devices they are fitting to buses to improve city air quality, and a significant number of hauliers have expressed early interest in it products.
Seven UK researchers have been awarded up to £85,000 of funding through the Enterprise Hub to spend the next 12 months exclusively developing a spin-out business based on their innovations. The Hub also provides training and connects each Enterprise Fellow to a mentor from the Academy’s Fellowship, which includes some of the UK’s top technology entrepreneurs. Volunteer mentors include Sir Robin Saxby FREng, Anne Glover CBE HonFREng and Ian Shott CBE FREng.
Other technologies funded in this round include medical innovations such as a handheld anaemia diagnosis device that can improve treatment, and a new cosmetic enhancement invention inspired by technology used to drive spacecraft, which removes fine lines and wrinkles with reduced scarring and quicker recovery times.
A new lubricant coating to reduce pain and discomfort for the millions of global catheter users was also selected, as was a new service that utilises big data to analyse the potential fuel use reduction that road transport and haulage firms would make by installing the most suitable fuel saving devices available for their fleets.
Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “The UK has a world-leading engineering research base, yet further action is required if the nation is to maximise its potential to innovate and remain an economic powerhouse. The Enterprise Hub is an excellent example of an initiative effectively bridging this gap to help commercialise cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and society.”
Arnoud Jullens, Head of Enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering, added, “Business-minded academics need investment and support from experienced industry practitioners to exploit their research, and the Enterprise Hub is in a unique position to make such connections. As well as matching each Enterprise Fellow with a mentor, we also provide broader networking opportunities, such as access to the wider Fellowship and investors who partner with the Hub.
“On top of this, the Hub offers funding, and a full package of bespoke support to help get their businesses off to the best possible start. For example, specific training in areas such as business modelling, pitching, and investor readiness is essential to this process, and the one-to-one mentoring is largely focused on helping the Enterprise Fellows get their innovations to market.
“We’ve already seen outstanding success from Enterprise Fellows of previous years and the Hub continues to introduce and expand its programmes to support entrepreneurial engineers as their businesses develop.”
Further information on all of the current and past Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellows can be found on the Enterprise Hub website: http://www.enterprise.raeng.org.uk